My Suffolk weekend: Gill Buckle
PUBLISHED: 11:07 22 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:55 20 February 2013
Gill Buckle of Nedging Hall is a busy woman - even in her leisure time!
Gill Buckle of Nedging Hall is a busy woman even in her leisure time!
Even at the weekend, and on a cold and misty day like today, the first thing I do is to walk the dogs and always before eight oclock. In the week it is because I like to be up and about before the fabulous team of staff who look after the estate turn up for work. At the weekends, maybe because I have so much more to do!
After seeing to my chickens I usually take a short stroll to say good morning to my pride and joy our two Suffolk Punch horses. I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Suffolk Horse Society and its optimism for the future of this wonderful Suffolk icon, the oldest breed of heavy horse in Great Britain. I have been on the council of the Society for 10 years and the show trailer is kept in our barn.
We used to keep all three of the Suffolk Trinity Red Poll, Suffolk Punches and Suffolk Sheep at Nedging Hall, but the sheep and cattle are now very much part of the wider farm interests and the resulting beef and lamb enjoyed locally but in particular at The Bildeston Crown and The Lindsey Rose, which I own jointly with my son James.
James always had his eye on buying The Bildeston Crown but I frankly thought he was mad. The first weekend of operation almost proved me right. The beds had been stripped and all the linen thrown out before we realised that there were actually guests booked in to stay.
A very resourceful Hayley, the newly appointed manager, set out to find substitute bedding which included raiding the linen closet at Nedging Hall and even stripping one or two of the guest room beds. Im happy to say that six years later, having attending a number of successful tourism and food award ceremonies, maybe he wasnt quite so mad after all.
The estate is rooted quite literally in the countys past as within the grounds there is the wonderful Nedging Oak which is said to be a thousand years old.
I also recognise how fortunate I am to live somewhere as truly beautiful as Nedging Hall where we have lived and farmed since 1974. The estate is rooted quite literally in the countys past as within the grounds there is the wonderful Nedging Oak which is said to be a thousand years old. There is also St Marys, the 13th century village church, which although not on the estate, I very much consider in my sphere of interest, particularly because it is the final resting place of my late husband. Sunday service at 11am is always a family occasion.
Church is usually followed by Sunday lunch. This weekend, we are at the Crown which gives me the opportunity to catch up with Chris Lee, the head chef, who recently met with Miles, one of our gardeners, to go through seed catalogues!
Im very proud of our gardens and am delighted that charities such as The Red Cross put them to good use with the Open Gardens scheme.
The meeting between Chris and Miles, however, was much more commercial. Nedging Hall has the most wonderful walled garden, perfect for growing fruit and vegetables. The Bildeston Crown has a three AA Rosettes restaurant featuring food cooked with primarily local ingredients and what can be more local than produce from the owners garden?
One of the pleasures of retirement is the luxury of being able to focus time and energy on those interests and those people who matter most to you. The week ahead is typical of this and so the weekend is also one of considerable planning and preparation.
Monday, like practically every Monday from October to mid January, I will be playing hostess for my son James and his guests on his weekly shoot. I also need to prepare for the meeting of the organising committee for the Woodbridge Horse Show of which Im chairman. The event is now the largest and oldest horse show in East Anglia and this year it takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2.